In our businesses and our churches we fail to encourage our people to learn. Yes, simply learn. There's this idea that at some point we have gained all the knowledge necessary and that there is no need to continue furthering our understanding. Or, once we come to some point of enlightenment, we don't pursue a deeper understanding or an understanding of the opposing view.
I was reading the book, "Blue Like Jazz" one weekend, while relaxing at a church function, as the book was recommended to me. The book gives insight to the emergent church and the attitudes surrounding it. I was seeking an understanding of these attitudes.
I read it. The author is a young, confused individual who I would not take advise from about a relationship with God as he can not even manage the human relationships in his life.
While reading the book, there was a pastor that sat to talk with me. He asked me what I was reading and why. I gave him a little insight.
His next statement was this, "Well, there's no need to read any other books, all you need to read is the Bible."
Seriously, we let these people preach in our churches.
I didn't say what I was thinking, which was, well I can't write that.
No argument that the Bible is sound doctrine and the greatest tool given to mankind, but where would a leader of a church come to the belief that one should not read other books or gain an array pf disciplines? What are we teaching in our seminarys anyway, and why do we let some of these poeple out, or in?
Oh, I guess everything God wants me to know and understand about reinsurance, nuclear energy, conservation, sales, my wife, how to build a fence, mathematics, investing, etc. I will find in the Bible. I guess he gave us the Bible and wanted us to stop thinking about anything else.
Not that there are not gems of truth about these things in the Word, but God did gave us minds to think, retain and share and grow. Isn't a book simply a one portion of a conversation?
Furthermore, what soldier ever goes to war without studying the enemy? Only a dumb one.
"Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature." Only from what he read in the synagogue? No. He gained wisdom through work, study, the Holy Spirit, and experiences, and yes, the scriptures also.
But had he listened to the rabbis of the day, he never would have went into Zacchaeus' home, or spoke to the women at the well. I'm sure they would have told him all he needed to know was in the Torah. It was the Spirit and other learning experiences that led him to these actions.
There's nothing that would ever make me go and spend one minute listening to this pastor or walk into the walls of his church. I guess as he went through seminary he never had to read any other book than the Bible. Or maybe it's ok for him to read other books because of his great learning and discernment from the seminary, but a poor old yucker like myself need not attempt.
Here's a better idea. Every idea or concept presented in other books should be held up against Scripture to discover if there is truth in it, but most certainly we must pursue knowledge and growth.
Our pastors and leaders must teach people how to learn. We must encourage the pursuit of knowledge in a wealth of disciplines.
Jesus was more than likely meeting with Nicodemus at night at John's home. Jesus at one time says to Nicodemus a great leader and scholar of the Law, "Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen and you do not accept our testimony."
Jesus combines additional understanding outside of the text of the Torah, "know" and "seen:", but then he circles back around and provides examples from scripture to help bring understanding. "...as moses lifted up the serpent..."
This is great. Jesus is teaching. He's using experience, common sense, examples, and the Word to teach Nicodemus. Now, whether he's a listening pupil is up for debate, but he was there seeking knowledge. Why else would a pious man of the cloth sneak out at night to spend time with the rebel of the day.
We must encourage our employees, our bosses, our church leaders, and our laymen to learn and we must be willing to teach.
Think about this for a moment. Have you ever been at a dinner or party when a pastor or priest has been there? And if so, when it came time to bless the food did they just assume or accept the position of saying grace? Why is it when the pastor is around no one else is able to pray. The Word says we are all a royal priesthood.
If our pastors were teaching, shouldn't they ask someone else to step up, or decline out of respect to the host, or just stay in a corner and be quiet and assess the spiritual condition of his congregation? They'd learn a lot about how they are performing as a pastor if they'd just stay quiet.
This doesn't happen. In most cases I've seen the pastor assume the lead, direct, and deliver eloquent intercession. Don't take the reins. Carefully push others to do so.
You know what's more exciting and I believe more interesting to God. The newest follower of Jesus in the room being asked to bless the food. The prayer may go like, "Um God. Thanks for this day and um this food and for all you do for us. Amen".
No one will put the prayer in a book, but it will be heard and be pleasing, and the fellowship can take pleasure in the growth of a brother or sister.
Pastors, stop assuming the leader role and teach people how to do it. Do things that encourage learning. Share the know how. Teach your people how to learn.
Dig just a little deeper in the Gospel of John "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John, although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were...."
Do you see. Jesus had set the example, and now he was teaching and letting others do the work. Can you imagine a pastor in one of our churches today stopping before a baptism and saying, "You know what, Jim became a follower of Jesus last week. Jim come up here and baptize our newest family member."
I was once asked what qualified me to baptize someone. Once again, what are we teaching in our seminaries?
People must be taught, and they must be taught how to learn.
I shared with our staff this week in a company wide meeting - HOW TO LEARN.
The Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98) wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, and is primarily known for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Carroll was a mathematician, photographer, inventor of puzzles and games, and wrote light verse.
When he wrote on mathematics and logic it was not without whimsy, as evidenced by the following introduction to his book on Symbolic Logic. In any case, this is excellent advice on how to read any textbook.
- Begin at the beginning, and do not allow yourself to gratify mere idle curiosity by dipping into the book, here and there. This would very likely lead to your throwing it aside, with the remark `This is much too hard for me!', and thus losing the chance of adding a very large item to your stock of mental delights . . .
- Don't begin any fresh Chapter, or Section, until you are certain that you thoroughly understand the whole book up to that point and that you have worked, correctly, most if not all of the examples which have been set . . . Otherwise, you will find your state of puzzlement get worse and worse as you proceed till you give up the whole thing in utter disgust.
- When you come to a passage you don't understand, read it again: if you still don't understand it, read it again: if you fail, even after three readings, very likely your brain is getting a little tired In that case, put the book away, and take to other occupations, and next day, when you come to it fresh, you will very likely find that it is quite easy.
- If possible, find some genial friend, who will read the book along with you, and will talk over the difficulties with you. Talking is a wonderful smoother-over of difficulties. When I come upon anything—in Logic or in any other hard subject—that entirely puzzles me, I find it a capital plan to talk it over, aloud, even when I am all alone. One can explain things so clearly to one's self! And then you know, one is so patient with one's self: one never gets irritated at one's own stupidity!
This can be applied to learning when reading, doing, watching, and talking.
We should all be learning. When you're 89. Be learning if you can. Always be reading.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 2 Peter 1: 5-9
And to goodness, knowledge.
To insinuate to your congregation that the only source of knowledge and growth and goodness is the Bible is a dereliction of duties. This opinion sure renders the Holy Spirit powerless.
May we teach those whom we disciple that learning is foundational to our calling, that it is to be continuous and should be exciting to us and is an element to our growth in Christ. May we in business continue to be learners of our trade and be teaching others to assume our roles.
As Harry Truman said, "The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all."